Volume 93, Issue 71

Friday, February 4, 2000


Weekend Pass

Lady ready to vamp it up in the name of pride

Inspired artists pose twin threat

Dance troupe WerkS


Lady ready to vamp it up in the name of pride

By Luke Rundle
Gazette Staff

It's been said that appearances aren't everything. It's also been said beauty is only skin deep. In the case of the performers from the Lads in Lashes drag revue, however, both these tired axioms are categorically false.

After all, the five members who comprise this show and portray a multitude of showbiz personalities, ranging from Joan Rivers to Celine Dion, are gorgeous, energetic and talented to the core. However, they do have one secret hiding below the surface – they lip-synch.

This two-and-a-half-hour dose of hilarious, raucous material has been in existence for almost a decade, beginning on the East Coast. "Lads in Lashes originated in Vancouver in 1990 with myself, a [drag] queen by the name of Willie Taylor, 'Canada's First Black Empress' and Mariah Lenore, who was Expo Empress twice in Vancouver," says Jeff Dawson, show MC/performer, also known as "J.J. Rivers."

"We moved to Ontario and our first show was the night the [Toronto] Blue Jays won the World Series for the second time. I remember, because Reba McIntyre [in drag] was on stage at the moment they won and everybody started cheering, which made her think she was doing a fabulous job, at least until she turned around and looked at the T.V. screen and realized the Blue Jays won. She got over it real quick, though."

Lads in Lashes has grown in leaps and bounds since then, with countless shows across the country and even an appearance on Open Mike With Mike Bullard. Dawson's personal repertoire including Joan Rivers, Carol Channing, Bette Davis and Marilyn Monroe, joins the wealth of personalities populating Lads in Lashes. Other names include Cher, Nancy Sinatra, Barbara Streisand, Judy Garland, Celine Dion and Shania Twain. The performers labour for hours on costumes, makeup and dance moves in order to accurately portray their characters to perfection.

For Dawson, all the primping and preparation before a show ends up paying off dividends when the floodlights go on. "I love being able to get out there on the stage and hug the audience and having them hug me back," Dawson intimates. "Whether it's making somebody laugh, making somebody smile, bringing a tear to someone's eye, we get that response back from the audience."

The show is in support of the Gay and Lesbian Alumni Western chapter and is expected to yield a hefty contribution to the group's cause. "It's got a mainstream appeal that'll hopefully raise lots of money for the chapter."

Visitors planning to attend tonight's show should heed Dawson's advice. "Expect the unexpected," he announces. "I think when people go to see a drag show, they think they're going to see big hairy men in dresses with red lipstick and blue eyeshadow and stuff. But it's nothing like that at all. Expect to have a good time and expect to laugh a lot."

As well, prospective audience members should leave easily scratched sensibilities and personal biases at home, for as Dawson warns, "Leave your attitude outside the door, because the only attitude is going to be on stage."

The Lads In Lashes drag revue appears tonight at the Wave.

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Copyright The Gazette 2000